11 engaging autumn activities for primary schools

Autumn is in full swing, which means it's the perfect time of year for a whole host of seasonal activities. From apple bobbing to seed searching, we’ve got 11 autumn activity ideas that you can try out with your children. Get your coats on. We’re heading outdoors.

Pumpkin testing

3Halloween has been and gone but hold onto those pumpkins, because they’re perfect for autumn science activities.

1. Collect, scoop and measure!

Start by asking the children to have fun scooping out and collecting pumpkin seeds. They can then practise their measuring and weighing skills using different tools, such as tape measures or scales. Who’s pumpkin has the largest circumference? Provide water and measuring jugs for the children to measure the pumpkin’s capacity too!

2. Let them rot

Think you’ve finished with your pumpkins? Never! Leave them to decay in an appropriate place and ask the children to observe how they change. Can they see any colourful microorganisms appearing on the pumpkins? Make sure they record the changes they can see, as the microorganisms reduce the pumpkin to a smelly, rotten ‘soup’. Yuck!

Searching for seeds

Untitled design (2)Autumn is a brilliant time of year for finding and collecting a wide range of seeds, from shiny conkers and prickly beech nuts to sycamore helicopters, plump berries, ‘stickybobs’ and ash keys.

3. Search and collect

Time to get your wellies on. Head outdoors with your children and ask them to look for and collect a wide variety of seeds. Can they look on the floor around bushes and trees? Head back inside and provide spotter sheets for the children to use as they try and identify all the different seeds that they collected.

4. Take a closer look

Ready for the nitty gritty? Once the children know what seeds they’re dealing with, encourage them to explore in more detail. What special features do the seed have? Can they use what they observe to identify how each seed disperses? Finally, ask the children to plant their seeds in pots of compost then watch over the following weeks to see which grow.

All about apples

5Autumn is also the perfect season for apple picking! If you can, why not take your class out apple picking before taking part in some fun Autumn activities?

5. Add fun science to apple activities

There are lots of traditional autumn games and activities that include apples. So why not put some fun science into them? Start with simple floating and sinking tests for the children to complete while they’re apple bobbing. Ask them to take a bite and talk about the senses they are using as they taste the apples. Finally, make toffee or chocolate apples and use the activity to talk about changes of state!

6. Shrunken apple heads

Why not challenge the children to make some slightly scary, shrunken apple heads? Here are some instructions, if you haven’t done it before. This is brilliant way for you to introduce and explore the science of dehydration and preservation with your children. They can put their creations on display in your classroom or even take them home.

Autumn leaves

1There are so many fun and informative activities that you can do with autumn leaves. Start by encouraging the children to make huge piles for good old kicking, jumping and hiding in!

7. Spot and sort

Once the dust has settled, challenge the children to find and identify leaves from different plants and trees, such as beech, oak and sycamore. How did they do? Give them a hand by printing and handing out this useful spotter sheet.

8. Autumnal artworks

Back in the classroom, ask the children to work carefully to make leaf skeletons and create beautiful leaf art. Never made a leaf skeleton before? Here is a great set of leaf skeleton instructions that you can print and either give the children directly or adapt and build on.

9. Hide and seek

Set up a series of large bags or buckets filled with autumn leaves. Hide a range of objects in the containers, such as small world woodland animals, glow in the dark stars or autumnal objects such as pine cones, conker husks or edible mushrooms. Can the children find the autumn treasures? Ask them to name and record their discoveries.

Fireworks!

6Now the days are shorter, we can wrap up warm and watch colourful firework displays light up the skies.

10. A snap, a pop and a little bit of smoke!

Children can’t examine real fireworks, but you can supervise them as they explore a tiny ‘explosive’ device – the fun snap! A fun snap contains a tiny amount of explosive silver fulminate. Can the children investigate what triggers the explosion? Party Poppers and Christmas crackers also use silver fulminate to make them pop! Here’s a great video that explains the process.

11. Fireworks in a jar

Lastly, if you want a totally safe alternative, you could ask the children to make fireworks in a jar out of just food colouring, water and oil. Here are some instructions.

That’s it – have fun! And don’t forget to share your photos and tell us what you think about these autumn activities over on our Twitter page.

Want more activities?

Take a look at our educational projects for primary schools. They’re bursting with exciting teaching activities and ideas. You can find them under the products heading at the top of the page or in the related products section to the right of this post.

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Dr Fran

Dr Fran Barnes is Cornerstones' expert in primary science. Fran is a molecular and cell biologist with a passion for hands-on, practical science in the classroom. She writes our Love to Investigate series and the science topics in our curriculum.

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